Posts Tagged ‘Landry’

Parsing The Criteria Of Great Art

17 Aug


"Ancient" by William Blake


Originally published on September 17, 1996

Landry wrote: This reminds me of an argument I had with my friend Brad who is a painter. He said that painting is art and writing is craft. What do you think?

Someone should kick poor mad William Blake up out of the grave. He called Jesus of Nazareth and his disciples the greatest ARTISTS the world has ever seen about the same time his friend Thomas Paine was facing the wrath of the English & American church leaders with his revolutionary AGE OF REASON, written mostly while sitting in the Bastille awaiting the guillotine for refusing to badmouth his friend King Louis, whom Paine held in high esteem for the king's much needed assistance to the colonies during the war against the English crown. Uh, now THAT reminds me of a peculiar intrigue Tom Wolfe's THE PAINTED WORD invoked with his fictional world reknown artist (this was a book about the NY painting scene where one's greatness as an artist is inseparable from the superior qualities of the particular THEORY of the art, brownie points for the thinker, nee writer once again, it seems) who while sitting in an unremarkable bar in an unremarkable mood suddenly had a great idea. He had only a glass of water and a paper napkin at his disposal. He quickly dipped and began etching, but just as suddenly as the idea had dawned in his mind's eye the world famous artist collapsed on his barstool and expired. Obviously his etching evaporated, but the question remained in Wolfe's assessment, was the idea that the now dead artist had expressed ever so briefly been that artist's, and therefore, perhaps the world's greatest work of art?


William Blake

Blake did it all in a sense, a man of deep thought and adroit action like American contemporaries—with his large body of wood etchings, paintings, poetry, his literary criticism, his anti-clericism, his involvement in the politics of his day, his strange mystical nudism, his sagacious love for his wife, all tempered by his touch of madness, and yet he called Jesus the GREATEST ARTIST. This same Jesus who never wrote or painted a damned thing except to draw some line in the sand, and there are those biblical scholars who amazingly even claim this was an apocryphal tale (now famous as the "he who is without sin, please please cast the first stone" scene) they insist was inserted by later scribes. This viewpoint leads of course to the idea that ideas are the guts of art, NOT shapes, lines, colors. Paintings may certainly express an idea, or several, but one is never exactly sure what that idea is unless the artist is part of that Clement Greenberg (the NYC art don) regime boasting an idea per brushstroke...

So it goes without saying that I tend to agree with Blake that it takes everything you've got to create art, but then (to answer your question), can paintings lie, cheat, and steal the way words do?


Pissing At The Peephole

16 Sep




Originally published on September 16, 1999

Arthur - I have no burning desire to cull the herd of genuine interested parties, far from it, and I certainly appreciated your first response a while back, and now again, when pressed, it seems you have indeed brightened my day just in hearing from you. Smells like loneliness, doesn't it? Not really. It's just that sometimes my own sense of failure and frustration in building an active community where different voices can be counted upon to seed the common causes and indeed foster that notion of belonging to a focussed group greater than oneself, gets the best of me, and I plot yet another "situation" to stir the soup.

I mean, one does get tired of groveling for input. But I've had a rough year myself since this list was founded last November, and certainly do not crave the ax just to exercise some phony sense of authority. The peepholes you mention: Matt, Kubhlai, Michael, and Gabriel, none of us have met in the flesh. But Len Bracken, Steve Taylor, and Lynn Landry all have met me, and have each pleaded cases of personal friendship with the GT, but something is drastically lacking in these friends who hardly have a word to share with this project. Friends indeed, I say to myself. In full-bodied candor, their absence is my strongest resentment of the moment.

Rebunk down in Australia, well, I dunno where he's floated off to, and there is only one other new name (to respond to Matt's query) on the subscription list, but this person has NEVER piped in with a word, not once in the several months since signing on. This person has a UK address, but has remained mum. Again, there is no criminal breech of etiquette in this behavior, but I do interpret a slight rudeness I think for a list this small already.

To me, this present anxiety is not a matter of seeping paranoia over the content or stylings of these conversations, uh, falling into the wrong hands or some utter nonsense like that; as incendiary cant they barely make muster, but there is a pinching personal disappointment fueled by a periodic suspicion that perhaps the SWILL is indeed nothing more than a crass waste of time since there are many other lists out there which seem to attract all sorts of opinionmaking noise, of the feverish sort or the mundane, but here, uh, well you know what I mean.

And I really despise the fact that I am whingeing over this.


Is Ayn Rand Still Relevant? Ask Jack...

03 Dec


Jack, Summer 1992 at Joe Liacono's


Dateline December 3, 1997

Jack and I bickered on and off which culminated in a ridiculous fight on Sunday. I was upset like I've never seen before; sobbing, vomiting. Of course, he says mean things and then ends discussion. Jack is more willing to sever ties with his closest relations than to admit he's wrong. What he doesn't realize is that in any relationship (friendship, love, whatever) right and wrong don't mean much. It's all compromise and forgiveness and humility. I think I've finally come to terms with this. There is no way to fix it. He is malfunctioned. It still hurts me like no tomorrow. No sign that it bothers Jack. I don't think he really cares.

Ho hum. Yes, it appears Jack really doesn't care. He lurks, he charms, he buzzes to a strong inner core that allows him to survive the petty trivialities of life like truth, honesty, genuine compassion for others outside the projection of his own visceral desire and whimsy.

I realize that you've had to hear this crap for nearly two years. I realize that you may still think I'm singing the wolf song. Maybe. But, I've got a piece of space with a lesbian coworker and a straight simoan babe (who's into bondage/leather shit—your kinda woman). It sounds great. Low cost of rent which includes maid service. Great neighborhood. No lease. No credit check. I can get on my feet and hopefully have my own place within six months. I may even just take over the house eventually.

I haven't minded being there for you Landry. You have helped me by proxy in my struggle to regain what was lost in the floods of rogue consciousness I'd embraced in the likes of that whole rock scene. This heavy dose of messianic complex persuading me I had been put into an influential office was no match for reality, either. You helped me clarify the issues by holding a mirror to the exploitative flames in my own life I had finally resolved to escape after long being too weak with misplaced sympathy and unfocussed identity gratification (usually in the form of self-loathing) to snuff out once and for all, and Jack's self-imposed exile helped accelerate just such an initiative for me to clean house, such were the powerful corrosions of these rather reluctant friendships and epiphanies. It took bold strokes of error-thwarting cross-examination over long agonizing months to reconstruct enough of that previous, more contented, abundant self I knew myself to be, was born to be and would die to recover, after being completely sucked dry of soul and self-respect by those who would call themselves my friends with their lies and their mayhem as I became in my public image the polar opposite of the original.

We are incapable of conceiving of the parasite’s mind, so we can never understand him. We are incapable of hatred or malice. We will not accuse or fail to reason—and we can’t find the cause, since we can’t understand him. So we become helpless and bewildered before him. We never accuse him, no matter what he does to us. He yells that we are selfish, cruel, tyrannical by reason of the very abundance and magnificence of our talents. And we almost come to believe this.
These past two years have been a steady scratching at the blackboard of independence as I have sought a return to the finer intelligence of my youth, my own strong and moral twenties (excepting the three years of my horrendous first marriage from 18-21), an intelligence I carved up into tiny pieces for empathy's sake and flung to the winds of aggressive discord and poisonous irresponsibility in my thirties as I lived through the dark storms of personality presenting themselves to me as cool, hip, and aimless reaction when in fact I had been fooled into living FOR others, and not FOR myself, and have as a result drunk and eaten myself into the cloaked miseries of poor health and civil oblivion. Jack however has mastered selfishness, perhaps is even hardwired for it, but instead of using this mastery of self for good he seeks the evil path and manipulates others less savvy with the methods of selfishness to prop himself up in all his own imaginary glory. Such skill to deceive, such aptitude to thwart others. It's a handsome package delivered with the gale force blitz of a strong personality stalled for reasons of its own frailty. May find its source in childhood or early adulthood when he was in prison for drug possession. Current drug use may also be a factor. But keeping to the rational, let's neutralize biographical and biological impulses to focus on ordinary choices ordinary actors are required to make in order to express one's impulses or lack of them for personal and social cohesion.

Allow me to quote from Ayn Rand:

“You think the world is essentially a mixture of good and evil, and one must compromise with the evil, and you’re sick of that, so you’re giving up the world? Nonsense. Evil, by definition (if we have made the right definition), is the impotent, the impractical, the powerless, that which does not work. So it is no threat to us, it cannot stand in our way—unless we permit it and help it to do so. It cannot poison the world for us—unless we carry the poison and spread it. The parasites cannot exploit us or rule us—unless we voluntarily agree to be exploited and hand them the tools with which to rule us.

“Let us withdraw the tools…

“We permit it, and we have suffered this long, for one essential reason: the generosity of the creator. It is our nature that we wish to give, prodigally, recklessly, because we know the source—our creative energy—is inexhaustible. Being self-sufficient, we cannot conceive of dependence, so we are modest in relation to others, we never think we are indispensible to them or superior, because we do not consider THEM indispensible or superior to us. We act as equals toward equals—and an exchange between equals is a proper, natural activity. We are glad to give because our creation is a discovery or embodiment of truth and when others respond to truth we welcome their response, we are happy—not because of the good that it does THEM, not because their approval gives us pleasure or is of any importance to us—but because their response is a victory for truth, that what we welcome is their entrance into OUR world, into that world we know to be good and true.

“We see no danger in giving—we think we’re giving to men as rich as we are; we think of it as gifts not alms. And whenever we come up against an inferior—that he is an inferior is the hardest thing for us to believe; we see the evidence and we think it is a misunderstanding or a temporary misfortune that has affected the man; then we throw ourselves to the rescue, we give, we help, we let him lean on us and bleed us, we carry him—why not?—we say, we are so strong, we have so much to spare. We are incapable of conceiving of the parasite’s mind, so we can never understand him. We are incapable of hatred or malice. We will not accuse or reason—and we can’t find the cause, since we can’t understand him. So we become helpless and bewildered before him. We never accuse him, no matter what he does to us. He yells that we are selfish, cruel, tyrannical by reason of the very abundance and magnificence of our talents. And we almost come to believe this. Almost—because no power on earth can really make us believe this; we are men of truth, we cannot fall that far into lying; and since our talents, our creative energies, are our sacred possessions, the source of our joy for living, we cannot permit so great a sacrilege against them.”

“We allow ourselves to become torn. In a vague, unstated, indefinable way, we begin to feel we must atone for something, make amends to someone, pay someone for something in some manner. What? We don’t know. We can never know. We refuse to admit to ourselves the truth in a clear statement: that we are being damned for the best within us, and that the creature making the accusation is small, inferior, and truly evil. We are generous, and do not pronounce such a judgement upon a fellow human being. Hatred and anger are unnatural to us; contempt for a human being is totally unnatural to us, perhaps impossible—because we think and act as if we were dealing with men, and it is not proper to despise men, we are worshippers of man, because WE are men and this is the logical implication of our self-reverence. One’s opinion of mankind comes from one’s opinion of oneself, which is the only first-hand knowledge of man one can have. The man who respects himself, will carry the respect to his species, to others. The man who despises himself, with good reason, carries the contempt, the malice, the hatred, the suspicion to all humanity. We, the creators, cannot conceive of this. We are bewildered by the parasite’s malice—we do not even recognize it as malice, because we don’t really know malice.

“But so long as, for any reason, we do not recognize the truth—we are bound to fail and to suffer in the whole sphere and in all our actions where we have left this truth unrecognized. Our generosity is a good motive? NOTHING is good if it motivates lying, falsehood, or evasion. There is no morality except in an unbending, absolute recognition of the truth, in relation to everything; an absolute will to find, face, and grasp the truth, to the utmost of our capacity, then to act upon it. Nothing is moral but this cold, ruthless, rational pursuit. But we have not faced or recognized the truth about the parasites—so we fail, we’re helpless, we’re disarmed, and they’ve got us. Did they win over us? No, we won the battle for them. They rule the world? No, we handed it over to them. The guilt is ours, but not in the way they think; in the exact opposite way. The guilt is that we refused to see the truth about ourselves and about them.”

The preceding few paragraphs are fetched from THE JOURNALS OF AYN RAND (Dutton, 1997) pages 399-401. While Rand is often a bit too pretentiously black and white, she offers a wide berth of gray as her lengthy journal characterizations of personalities from her two major novels, THE FOUNTAINHEAD and ATLAS SHRUGGED attest. She admits imperfection, her superman is a cold human being, a product of severe intellect and resolve, but worldly success is hardly the criteria for recognizing this true man. She is unabashedly anti-collectivism and opposed to such mundane concepts as self-sacrifice and herd instinct, of course, having been sharpened by the catastrophic blades of Soviet Russia in its rush toward dialectic materialism, escaping to America in 1926.

Writing in 1946, Rand continues to plot her book, suggesting that the great minds, the individual genius, the prime movers should go on strike:

“This last form of striking always happens when gifted men find themselves in a morally corrupt society. And such a society is always collectivist, or on its way to collectivism, because morality and individualism are inseparable. The degree of individualism in a society determines its degree of morality. In effect, the gifted men find themselves dealing with men and conditions THEY DO NOT WISH TO DEAL WITH. So they do one of three things: (1) they do not function at all and become drifting, aimless bums; (2) they function in some field other than their peoper one, and produce only enough for their own sustenance, refusing to let the world benefit from their surplus energy; or (3) they function in their proper field but produce less than one-tenth of their actual capacity—it is a strained, unhappy, forced effort for them with their disgust against the conditions under which their energy has to function.”

As you can see she, like all fingerpointers and none of us can claim to be otherwise, muddies the puddle of clear passionate labels soon enough. It's like the biblical metaphor that JC will return as an avenging lion, while at the same time, we are informed that archrival Lucifer not only presents himself as an angel of light as if he were some passive lamb or man of peace but that he too, is a roaring lion out to ruin men's best intentions. How in damnation are WE MERE MORTALS supposed to figger out who is playing what field and when?

I get home. Jack ignores me. He is playing Nintendo, empty bowls in the sink. His appetite, his life, all unphased. I realize: he doesn't give a fuck. I do the bills in the bedroom, my stomach in knots. I try to talk to him but I am the recipient of grudge silence. Jack would rather sever his arm rather than apologize to it. I think: I have no enemies. I have never stopped talking to somone—not even ex lovers. Jack has turned his back on you, Gabe, and others I'm sure I don't know about with not so much as a sniff. Less than two years in SF and he already has a list of people he does not talk to. This is wrong. I don't understand it.

The basic problem with Jack, discounting his intrinsic dishonesty, is that he does not progress in the world of life and liveliness past the old thrills of adolescence. He remains a stagnated nullifying personality. Rather than change his life he changes the people in his life so that his fringe perspective can be dished out afresh, as progress is gained only in the turnover of faces and places, and he can tell himself and these new ears all the stories his multitude of “friends” and “locales” have helped him build in a world of illusive success in the eyes of others.
It's unfair to characterize Jack as a thoroughbred parasite. But let's not mince words or hide behind veils of superficial morality. Let's call a liar a liar. Jack certainly fails the truth and honesty test when it comes to pure genius, preferring to mindfuck and aggravate his closest friends while sucking up to the famed and the fortuned as an extension of his own greater self, a role I too embraced in those awful years of socially incompatible boredom unleashed upon the worthless rock scene of noise pebbles and strutting egos. But I differ from Jack. He hides behind the facade or the appearance of not needing others, proud in his aloof aloneness but he truly can't survive without the social contact of the scene. I meanwhile parade around in a foul attempt to need everybody when really I am quite uncomfortable with people of any scene (with the possible exception of my wife), and prefer my aloneness, and feel self-worth only when alone, an escape from the weariness of conflict inevitable with the approach of the smug and the self-satisfied.

Oftentimes the philosophical canvas of well-mapped minds seems painted in pure black and pure white rhetorically-enhanced pigments, but Rand is quite robust in flushing out the multitudes of gray failures in her vibrant palette of undisguised potential. She writes of the trickle down "theory of greatness in practice" long before the writers for Herr Reagan took up the mantle, using these words:

“On the basis of this beginning, the story proceeds like this: The prime movers say to the world, in effect: “You hate us. You don’t want us. You put every obstacle in our way. Very well—we’ll stop. We won’t fight you or bother you. We’ll merely stop functioning. We’ll stop doing the things you martyr us for. AND SEE HOW YOU LIKE IT. The complete statement of the strike’s objective is this: We have had enough of your exploitation, persecution, insults, stealing, and expropriation. Go ahead and try to exist without us. We will not come back until you recognize and acknowledge the truth of the matter. Until you admit what we are, give us full credit for what we do, and give us full freedom from your chains, orders, restrictions, and encroachments—physical, spiritual, political, and moral. Until you accept a philosophy that will leave us alone to function as we please. Until you take your hands off us—and keep them off. We ask nothing but the freedom to work and live as we please. You will get gifts and benefits from us such as you can never imagine. But you will not get them until you leave us alone …”

I'm kind of afraid of his recent behavior. I feel that if left untreated, it could turn into physical abuse. I feel that he is trying to alienate me from other people. The first step in physically abusive relationships. However, I don't think Jack is the kind of person to hit women. You would have told me that if so, I think. I think he's too lazy for that. I do not like the person he's made me become. It sucks. It hurts. It's no fun. It's pathetic. I am not me. I hate him. I never thought anyone could be so, so selfish. He doesn't seem human to me. How sad for him to be so gripped in the terror of not winning; of being wrong to be willing to toss aside EVERYONE. It really creeps me out. I look at him and think, he really doesn't get it. It's so very sad.


Frankly my dear, I don't...

I'm not sure where this leads us in the matter at hand, Lynn. Most of us tend to see ourselves in the best possible light, or the worst. More typically, we flipflop on a rather consistent basis. This is our weakness. Nobody MAKES us flipflop. In our laziness and our weakness we think in terms of whatever suits our purposes of the moment, and adopt circular tautologies which reassure us that our past has no relationship to our present, unless of course we can glorify or punish ourselves as a helpless nonsensical victim of our past. That is the great lie we tell ourselves. Even Ayn Rand overestimates the ability to succinctly reverse the biological powers of entrenched thinking. We train ourselves to be weak and useless by referring to our decent motivations as signs of our goodness, of our moral strength, of our willingness to sacrifice. Piffle, irrelevant associations of the assaulted mind, useless in the arena of real activity. This trench warfare of oscillating between momentary truths rather than relying upon rational convictions is where we continually make our mistakes. And these mistakes, like firebrand molecules of self-destruction attach themselves to other mistakes, and we are rendered more weak and more useless than we were a week ago, a month ago, a year ago. Each detail of our psychology and our intellect, each philosophical concept and practical action must be analyzed on an individual basis, just as we wish to be anlayzed on an individual and not a collective, herdlike, stereotypical basis.

No doubt you still cling to Jack for the very same traits which inspired you in the first place. But you are not the same person anymore. You have been stripped of something precious, now replaced by the revolting chaos of petty lies, failed opportunities, and habitual belittlement slopping over from the other, as you struggle to bring order to that collectivism which is a relationship. It is probably a one-sided trade because of the competing natures involved. Because you are a doer, and not a mere parasite, you have inherited only the foreign, the unbridled unashamed chaos of the other. The excitement, the expansive thrill, and most importantly, even the quiet joy of living, you already possessed. The other would not, or could not add to that in any estimable portion. The basic problem with Jack, discounting his intrinsic dishonesty, is that he does not progress in the world of life and liveliness past the old thrills of adolescence. He remains a stagnated nullifying personality. Rather than change his life he changes the people in his life so that his fringe perspective can be dished out afresh, as progress is gained only in the turnover of faces and places, and he can tell himself and these new ears all the stories his multitude of "friends" and "locales" have helped him build in a world of illusive success in the eyes of others. It is these traits that keep Jack from dwelling at the far ends of the spectrum and deep into the gray of the mundane world as his genius is wasted on his desire to remain a "pampered" child, a desire I simply cannot fully comprehend, since responsibility and harsh realities were rudely thrust upon me and my organizational mind at a very early age, an oldest child of a brood of six in seven years, a ballplayer, a Boy Scout, a school leader.

hat former period I called the Yellow Years in some places, the Mustard Years in others. That and previous periods (The Skinny Years) have barely been told. Not proud, just addicted to brave, brittle, brutal honesty, an honesty that hurts so much it attacks the nervous system, an honesty one must learn, and will always have the last say as we steer through the punative shards and upsets of life, life as we know it, just as we suspect the unrevealed life extracts its own ruthless penalties from every silence right down to the roots of its own noisy vindictive abcess, no concessions required. My opinions.
So this remains your call, Landry. Few of us are pure evil. Jack is not that much fun beneath the surface, but he's not pure evil either. However, let me acquaint you with the idea that the brain, the organ of the mind is indeed as valid in terms of physical flesh as the face or the arm, and is quite capable of being physically abused. A face wound might heal in a few days. A brain wound may never be healed if the thinking process is cajoled into repeated faulty reasoning while in mortal combat with an opponent who will stop at nothing to cloud the issue and win at any cost to truth and integrity.

But in the effort for full disclosure, let's just be clear that although I have no trouble with communication, psychological analytics, or philosophical resolve, I'm nothing close to being a well-balanced gentleman myself. In terms of dirty laundry, since being a charming, disruptive, manipulative teenager myself, I have clearly proved myself to be a tragically flawed creature because I have lived through enough evil, unable to properly marshal trending ethics and civility in both postulate and axiomatic form. To my credit, as a thinking artist, I have boiled too many thoughts, lusted after too many sad acts, and whacked too many skins, thick or thin, black or white, junk or genius to act as any judge of another except how it affects my own fragile but confirmed need for playing the hand I am dealt. I have been spoiled, soiled, and counter-foiled when I had little or no chance to win. I have transformed myself into a priest or a wizard when I had little or no opportunity to lose. I have always known the difference between the two, but few I have ever known have ever possessed the power to listen to my problems with life and liberty beyond the first few syllables, and so I've often had to admit for the sake of the herd, that I'm nothing but a mute with a speech impediment, ready to crack a one liner, slug back a beer, call the punk rock bluff, embrace ritualized chaos in public, play the brute to mask my own boredom, self-doubt, and determination to overcome the sorry past by fitting into the sorry future. That former period I called the Yellow Years in some places, the Mustard Years in others. That and previous periods (The Skinny Years) have barely been told. Not proud, just addicted to brave, brittle, brutal honesty, an honesty that hurts so much it attacks the nervous system, an honesty one must learn, and will always have the last say as we steer through the punative shards and upsets of life, life as we know it, just as we suspect the unrevealed life extracts its own ruthless penalties from every silence right down to the roots of its own noisy vindictive abcess, no concessions required. My opinions. Jack is also a fan of science fiction and robotics. I wish you two the best possible...

Repair to Søren Kierkegaard's frosty titles, Sickness Unto Death and Fear and Loathing, for additional source materials.


Bargaining With The Situationists At Large In Today's Dollars

12 Nov


Guy Debord


Originally published on November 12, 1997

I haven't been keeping up with these rad dudes since the list became a book selling booth and then something's screwed up to where I'm on the list twice (get everything in duplicates) but can't respond or unsubscribe because of some unexplained cosmic glitch. However, I decided to peek and see you getting mutilated by some humanoid. I can't say if I agree or disagree because I don't have the whole story but the hostility is acidic. I know, however, that you can take it and I'm sure you're just laughing on this.

Landry, I've thought about your newsgroup problem. How does this sound? Pick out what you find pertinent, disregarding the rest. Spud really doesn't monitor the newsgroup. It's automated. You signed up beaucoup months ago when you had another address. In order to UNSUBSCRIBE, you have to UNSUBSCRIBE with that same address. You get duplicates sometimes because I forward you stuff and the newsgroup forwards you the same stuff because you are still on the list. Your company E-mail server still accepts mail from your old address. Unsubscribe twice using both your current E-mail address and your former, then SUBSCRIBE afresh should you still be interested in receiving the list. Other than that I'm clueless. Yes, I am laughing, saddened by this sorry state of affairs, but laughing nevertheless. It's my only refuge.

I want to note that I believe that a lot of the people on this list are graduate students or something and are disappointed at the thin intellectual conversation spewing from their lip-fingers. How sad. I would love to get paid to spew. They don't know what they possess. Looks like academia is nothing more than a booksellers guild where they reshape sentences of sentences written about thinkers of the past. Who's doing the original thinking?

Not this crew. That is certain. I think I am wiggling towards the next wave of logic, but I can't get a word in edgewise. It's funny because I never mention g-o-d, but these people truly run for cover whenever I quote anything remotely Hebrew, even though I've tried to point out over and over again the wholesale ransacking and theft of the literature by Marx and Debord. Dead silence or the petty voice you quoted below is all these "great thinkers" can manage. Strange, I didn't receive that unsigned text. Maybe Spud has indeed axed me from the group.

Was Marx the highest point intellectual thought could attain? I keep waiting for the next thing, the next evolution on the food chain of an attempt to organize the human condition but I see only rehash rehash rehash. Art is rehashing cubism with slightly different variations. Literature is dancing around the macabre Faulkneresque trip into the dark side of family life with modern therapy heavy judgment thrown in. Music is nothing but push button computer masturbation.

They claim a desire to elevate the man without quality but when I present a self-portrait of that very man without quality they attack me with strange wordy affairs from their own contrived bible, contrary to the schematic of universal understanding, and sink into the abyss, well-deserved victims of their own lack of quality.
Well, the "next" thing was Debord. Of this I am positive. At least, the Situationists group as chaos, which is what I saw happen under the iron thumb of Debordian authoritarianism. A very good starting block for this clearinghouse of competing ideologies swarming around like angry hornets with an endless supply of stingers. However I seek not to clarify but to modify Debord, present a plan of action (or action by inaction) for which we stand. But of course these yahoos are too busy worshipping at the altar of Debord to ever "say" anything much less something of substance. It's the same numbing stagnation of thought they claim the spectacle creates and holds the world as hostage, that they practice. Duh, what a waste of fine godfodder, oops, I finally used the word.

Your text above describes what Debord was howling against. He was aware of the rehash, and wanted to "revolutionize" everyday life, but I believe he failed rather miserably*, just as Jesus** did in his own revolutionary pose (although his effects are as well-documented as this modern messiah***), but GODSPEAK on the other hand IS very much alive conducting his press upon the stage of HISTORICAL TIME, that Hegelian phrase that seems to have only one meaning for all that I can uncover: the spark that leads to the Len Bracken generation's own personal civil war. Debord was an athiest; Bracken confesses the same.

Civil war is the great god they worship. Capitalism the devil. Their own historical time, their own dirty war in the name of the zeroworker theory interlaced with an abrupt dismissal of all things proprietary, a ridiculous idea of course betrayed by their own hypocrisies. I say, like Zachariah, the great and terrible day is coming in nuclear spades but woe to those who would wish for its arrival, especially to those by whose hands it is accelerated. Of course I am dismissed as a mere fool and a preposterous godlover. It seems to me they actualize, accentuate, and love the Great and Terrible Lord of Theosplatz more than I do, but that's just my opinion, uncouth, unhip as it is. The mark of the beast. The fall of mercantilism. No copyrights. No work. Hot BOG & BOR topics****, but all these wankers can do is strut about in their task to mark me as declassé. They claim a desire to elevate the man without quality but when I present a self-portrait of that very man without quality they attack me with strange wordy affairs from their own contrived bible, contrary to the schematic of universal understanding, and sink into the abyss, well-deserved victims of their own lack of quality.

Aaah, the wonders of the intellect . . .

A few notes:
* in his exclusionary practices
** in his inclusionary practices
*** in this case I see Debord as Barrabas, and still no messiah on the horizon.
**** BOG (Book of Genesis), BOR (Book of Revelation)


"I see pieces of men marching trying to take heaven by force . . ."
-Bob Dylan

New Rag For Dirty Boots On Shiny Floors In The Grand Old FlatIron Building

05 Aug


Troubling Were The days


Date: Tue, 5 Aug 1997 00:24:22

Hey Tom, I snagged your E-mail address from Landry who'd sent me the message below. My address is 109 Eighteenth Street. I look forward to a sample copy of your zine. If you are indeed looking for contributors I no doubt will consider it, but just to keep us both honest and smog-free I'll reserve that decision until I know more about the work.

Meanwhile good luck, and thanks in advance for the sample. I'll let you know when it gets here. Feel free to put me on any E-mail list you may operate, although I must admit I've cut way back on my idle chat as I continue work on my website in an attempt to bring forth a new rag for dirty boots on shiny floors in the Grand Old Flatiron Building.

What are your plans for a web presence, if any? Those ulterior motives I mentioned? I'd like to collaborate with you, or at least curry permission to publish some if not all of RABBLE REVIEW on the web. As I mentioned above I am carving up my own web interests into two different domains, the iMotedotcom site where I'll advertise my web design solutions in hopes to ease my wife's heavy financial load after she has supported me in my folly for some time now, and a brand new subsidiary The Scenewash Project. This is where art and politics merge to suggest what little vitality I have left is emphatically informed by the past, and yet is still scratching and aiming for the contaminated future as we prepare for the great and terrible day of economic and environmental collapse all manner of folk have predicted with x's and o's, and have yearned to bring forth with great bowel movements to and fro...

Are you familiar with the Situationists? An acquaintance of mine, Len Bracken has just written a book, published by Feral House, on Guy Debord, one of the primary movers and shakers of that huffin puffin revolutionary crew which gained mild support and slightly greater notoriety in the 1950s and Sixties with their admonishments of NO WORK, ALL PLAY, culminating in the May '68 Paris Revolt. I won't pretend to sum up the Situationist International (SI) for you if'n you're unfamiliar with them, although after one issue of the RR, I CAN say that you should certainly sniff out the trail which leads to Debord, Vanegeim, et al—right up your alley, I'd surmise.

Peace, opposing thumbs, and a beggarman's blisters...


Why I Am Expectantly Loud In A Salient Room Of Dropping Pins

11 Jul

Crudely I sing camp songs to a cast of mostly indifferent dozens
as I recline in the pit of this political orchestra
a former spring peach courting rumors of decline conventionally grown
bull market proud like most fevered conspiracies
jumping up and down until
they glance at me
embracing the minor posts of the very strong
for sake of the major ghosts of the barely known.

Once in the spotlight I cannot relinquish
long after I quicken, empty of undeputized words
I am she might and muscle as I am he who conjures noises
public displays, bodily functions, ditto hushed rebellions
aiming to keep audiences crouching in line
To watch
To listen
To me on nothing I can use to win.

Once I was pinched against the cold lost wall
an ugly frazzled flower always stripping for candy whistles
in gold pirate fan glossed high school halls
over long legs of boys, over long legs of boys
the grip of the cold lost wall was fierce
but refusing to take root or suffer this load
I made my escape in a green gray Chevy
up an unshouldered sexless bayou road.

That's why I am loud.

The more books I open the more I read
the less shy I pretend I am
when I ask the world to touch me with delicate fingers
desiring open spaces of mountain and sky, the orgasm that lingers
no walls but canyons and oceans for me

quiet places where I cannot be held by
walls that grope
or am forced to hang out
in dingy dark and dangerous coops
with petty chickens and their jailers.

This poem, written in 1997, is a collaboration with a SF poet named Landry. Although I only offered a few changes which she said she liked, she didn't think it was her poem anymore. Well, I liked her root images immensely, and despite the tightening chances I offer them here, I made more changes, and Landry if still around is merely a wisp, but I would prefer she speak for herself.

Ping Ping Ping

27 Feb


Death Cult by Gabriel Thy


Orginally published on February 26, 1997

Yes, it's official! Actually sometime early last week I got my rejection notice from City Paper stating both the editing and design jobs had been filled but please try again in the future. By the way, I really appreciated your comments the other day about the Dollhouse Fevers serial. That rather dry response I muscled out did not really indicate the true boost to my spirits your encouraging words sparked. To the point, I've noticed an ample loss in energy that obviously relates to your comments...

"Boy, I am really enjoying this. I know it is the telling of a true trauma tale of friendship gained and lost, but as a piece of writing it is absolutely wonderful. I await Day 3." that after writing on the topic I collapse, physically drained, numb in body and spirit. Surely a strong indication of the intensely personal nature of the writing, knowing that those persons being profiled no doubt will read the very words which could only drive the wedge between us even deeper than the events discussed.

Trust things are have gelled on the homefront. While visiting with Steve this weekend at his local watering hole in Philadelphia, he blurted out that he had been carrying on this secret E-mail campaign with you. I suspected as much, Landry. That was as far as the revelation went, but it followed on the heels of his patented rata-tat-tat speedwhiz monologue which on this occasion was employed to explain that he wasn't addicted to alcohol, oh no, but that he was addicted to irresponsibility.

Ping ping ping—the roll call of topics zing past faster than even a sober mind can retain—without rhyme or reason—ping ping ping—life has a way of explaining itself under the influences of irresponsibility. But enough of all that. While writing this I've been watching Ricki Lake gushing at the surprise baby shower thrown in her honor, hosted by Joan Lunden. John Waters was there, gifts and videoconferenced goo goo, all near and dear to you, I'd presume...


Reality On The Ground

24 Feb


Love The Stigma


Dateline February 24, 1997

On the other hand, how realistic is it for one to EVER think oneself responsible for the dingbats and wingnuts of the whole stinking world, moonlighting on some pedestal, self-annointed or otherwise, as some holy roller savior of billions, pocketing millions, or maybe not a dime, but nevertheless fainting and feigning lockjawed over that brother's keeper line of reasoning? Steve Taylor often has said he couldn't care less for ANYBODY save his small circle of friends and his family. Hence, a generally happy outlook because he has relieved himself of a responsibility no one can shoulder realistically anyhow. Worth noting he is a young man, actually a whippersnapper, a young whippersnapper, so mileage may vary as he navigates down the wavy line.

In this case, the sad-eyed prophet is the delusional one who frets over the world's problems UNREAListically, injuring himself in the process. But undiluted self-interest is as bogus as the converse. So the paradox remains. Is the algebra of happiness a reality marked by self-interest, or is the algebra of reality simply the starting gate for all unhappiness. In others words, might thinkers always think themselves into unhappiness, despite any slant given to the freedom of individuality? After all, paradoxes like nature abhor a vacuum...

Thanks for the gratifying input, Landry. Made peace with Tim this weekend, partied with him after chasing around northern VA all afternoon and early evening looking for a batting cage with Steve and Sue. He's got a new place up in NW, a rather typical sparsely furnitured male group house with Tim in the basement stocked with his own kitchenette and private entrance, paying less money than he was doing here according to Steve. I was so blitzed by the time we got there I don't even remember where it was, but it was near U Street, 11th, maybe. The lad's finally hit the big cheese without the safety net of parents or parental surrogates. It was good to see him. Below is an excerpt I wrote just last week in response to a query from Peter Burris, another early but now somewhat distanced while still supportive pal of Tim's...

As I said, I wanted to write this narrative because that's what writers do, they write. I write. I detect and analyze every detail of my life. This may not make me a healthy well-adjusted personality (recalling our recent exchange on that topic), but then I gave up on that flimflam years ago, and simply embrace the spirit that drives me. Some might see it as evil incarnate, or barely functional escapism. Others just don't care.
Peter remarks, "I am curious, but not pushy—do you envision ever becoming friends with Tim again in your life-time? God knows, you saved his life and I don't know anyone in his circle who doesn't thank you and Sue for doing so. If nothing else, that gratitude is heartfelt every time I see Tim alive."

I will express my opinions on this matter within the context of the Dollhouse Fevers serial. In fact, you are the primary cause of the serial. You were the first to write me for details, perspective on what happened, and I wanted to give you a clear unambiguous assessment of the whole event, those details directly leading up to, and those details only peripherally inclined, that made the January 2 Dollhouse coup a necessity. Eight parts. I'll resend the first two tonight, and include my commentary on your EVIL piece. Hopefully I will write the third installment this weekend. And may the force be with you to RECEIVE, and thus read ALL. Meanwhile, keep the faith Peter. I don't know how we saved Tim's life. He paid his own way, but then he paid for his own departure as well. A little hint at the future: I'm not angry at Tim in the traditional sense. I was just frustrated that my mark on him was as shallow as warm backwash in a cold beer can. His influence on me was greater than my influence on him. THAT was not a good thing...

Namely, I've cut back drastically on my alcohol intake, although my eating habits have not diminished so I really haven't followed in your path enough to boast a substantial weight loss. Meanwhile just keeping busy, feeling better about life. Have not heard a peep from Jennifer, but I didn't expect too much from her, even after I e-mailed a couple of times alerting her that I hadn't found a Johnny Cash CD she left without, and then again when I did find and subsequently send it back by post. But anywaze, while painful as the event might seem at first glance, it was good riddance purge of all clutter and ingratitude that kept me in high spirits, and now that Tim and I have at least reconciled to a degree, I have nothing to gain by pressing anger in any direction. As I said, I wanted to write this narrative because that's what writers do, they write. I write. I detect and analyze every detail of my life. This may not make me a healthy well-adjusted personality (recalling our recent exchange on that topic), but then I gave up on that flimflam years ago, and simply embrace the spirit that drives me. Some might see it as evil incarnate, or barely functional escapism. Others just don't care.

These myths have been shattered in the 20th century, with not a small amount of credit due the beat writers. But old classicist blowhards like Gore Vidal still mutter against this straightforward approach on occasion.
Despite the recent furies, seven weeks is not all that long for a major spat like we had, it was good to discover only this past Saturday that Tim had indeed landed exactly where we would have wanted him, upon his own two feet accepting responsibility for himself. But I had to laugh girl when you wrote your REAL MEN DON'T KEEP JOURNALS piece. You wrote:

"I don't think you can use an historical perspective when it comes to journal writing. It's not at all like evolution or losing our opposing thumbs. If Tom Jefferson referred to himself in a distant and cold manner, well that's his problem; he was always tough to get along with anyhow (specially on slave-buying day when he couldn't get his point-of-views in order). If there is a reason that men may not keep as personal journals, it would have more to do with negative (and positive) socialization, not history. "

This, I believe, is a nonsensical line of reasoning, Landry. Most male writers and military men kept journals. They simply didn't publish them because they exploited other avenues of fame and fortune. Hiding behind fictional novels in public, writers massaged themselves with the idea that journals were supposedly more private. While true that women found their niche in publishing journals, most men writers felt superior in their false assessments that private thoughts and dialectical exercises were better kept private, suggesting by default that artistic writing should not reveal itself in the first person, and if so, was somehow inferior, lacking objectivity, and a whole lotta other mush. These myths have been shattered in the 20th century, with not a small amount of credit due the beat writers. But old classicist blowhards like Gore Vidal still mutter against this straightforward approach on occasion. Other than that singular remark, Landry, I thought your piece worthy of itself.

Hit The Road, Jack, Before You Ruin The Halftime Show Again

12 Feb


Girl In White


Susanne's a pretentious whiny whirly girly mess. Except when she's a curvy but slight, thin-shouldered sexy kitty crawler with plush red lips bouyant enough to float across the Atlantic, a whimpering adorable quick-eyed fashionista, edible, noisy, and nasty, but I tell you what—Jack Jack Jack, nimble nimble Jack, always finds a way to look really stupid and callous in the way he treats his relationships. But then again, this is me talking, and after 40 years of loving everybody with a howdy doo I now seem to find everybody a miserable waste of life force, especially those who rush in wearing the rank of friendship. Kerouac debatably wrote the first great modern friendship story. I must be writing the story of what a gross clusterfuck friendship can really turn out to be...

Sorry Jack didn't work out. He simply doesn't care beyond the next energy burst. He's always just an upbeat away from another potential friend, that easy touch. Having nothing and doing nothing seems to present him with that advantage. I think Jesus said something to that effect. But Jack rides the great dragon of lies. He tells an outrageous lie when a simple truth would get him closer to his mark than the fiction ever could, but, hey, that's Jack's security blanket it seems. Lie until it hurts, and then make up new ones. I've known him a decade now, and oh well...

Been working with Photoshop Actions batching routines today. WOW! What a wonderful feature. I can convert whole folders of say, a hundred TIFF grayscale graphics into JPGs, add a tint, resize, blur to smooth out edges, and save at a certain resolution, ALL BY FIRST HAVING PHOTOSHOP RECORD MY ACTIONS DURING ONE, and then executing for all the others. To watch one's computer open up files, add tints, resize, save into specified folder, close, and then open the next one is simply what power computing is all about!!! Then I simply grab that folder, and drop it onto a namechanging shareware program I recently picked up and it will standardize all the filenames—operations that I used to spend hours, days, even weeks hardclicking now accomplished in minutes. Sweet Macintosh!


My, How Rich Your Text Is

06 Feb


Living With Jack


Leave the bastard. Kick him out into the fruity liaisons of territories still in contention. That seems to be all Jack can produce of himself. Man I grieve knowing all the potential Jack holds in his little finger, and could possibly manage into greatness, yet he continues to fuck up. You can imagine how stunned I was, the first time we ever met, when he remarked out of the blue in priceless gravity that he wished he could be like me...

I now suppose he was right, once upon a time. I am me, he ain't.

That was some strong detail you suffered, dahling. Jack is a real ass, I'm sorry. Frankly I love you, not him, although Gene Wilcox and I were just watching Jack coordinate a video shoot we made back in the day, blah blah...and still recognize the power of Jack's presence...

I wish I could add more to the record but I'm not only tired, I'm on the tail end of an 18 hour drunk. Gene, who thinks, argues thinking he is, but ultimately agrees that I, not he, is the baby Jesus, whatever that means, is still here passed out on the couch...



"Ignorance and virtue suck on the same straw. Souls grow on bones, but die beneath bankers' hours.""